Reimagining Percolate Mobile

How mobile got a seat at the table

This is a story about growth, focus, and reprioritization. It’s a timeline of how our Product Team at Percolate came to understand the necessity of a dedicated mobile team. Of how we crafted a long term strategy for our mobile products. And of how we’re executing that vision.

This is the first piece of that story, and it starts when I joined Percolate as their fifth Product Designer.

October 2014

At this time Percolate was being built as a central hub for marketing teams, allowing them to create campaigns, distribute content, and measure their campaigns’ success.

Deepening relationships with customers like Unilever, MasterCard, and GE had given us an opportunity to solve more of their problems by expanding our web product’s functionality. We started moving into the realm of becoming a complete system for all marketing operations. Kind of like what Salesforce is for Sales, but for marketing teams.

This growth was great from a business perspective and our Product Team got to tackle complex engineering and design challenges that would be used by thousands of users around the world.

But our design team would learn that a heavy focus on expanding the web product’s functionality would lead us to neglect the user experience of our mobile apps.

February 2015

The web product was now capable of supporting multiple marketing workflows for our customers. By this point we had also built four mobile apps on iOS and Android which were designed to accomplish smaller marketing tasks on the go. They were intentionally lightweight and contained only core functionality:

  1. Approver App — approve or leave feedback on your brand’s social content.
  2. Community Manager App — dip into social streams to manage customer engagement.
  3. Marketer App — view upcoming campaigns and scheduled social content.
  4. Photographer App — snap, tag, and upload photos at industry events.
Our four apps in February 2015

Early versions of these apps received positive feedback from our customers and generated excitement around the direction we were taking them. These four simple apps had the potential to become a staple in our customer’s daily work activities.

June 2015

Percolate’s customer base continued to grow. We opened a new office in San Francisco. The Forrester Wave Report named us as a top player in areas like Content Marketing and Social Relationship Platforms. Percolate was up alongside companies like Oracle, Adobe, and Sprinklr.

Business needs at this time focused our attention on delivering features for our web product. Unfortunately this was at the expense of a long term vision and strategy for mobile. This trade-off resulted in us shipping features for iOS and Android to keep parity with our web product instead of considering how else mobile could have an impact. Another challenge we faced was taking time to consider the needs of our Android users. We still hadn’t updated to Material Design.

Simply put, we were struggling to give mobile the proper consideration that it deserved. Our users started to notice, and their feedback revealed alarming issues:

“It’s just way easier to use other tools.”
“I work on a smaller team, so I have to jump between 3 of your apps to accomplish my mobile workflows.”
“I uninstalled all your mobile apps. They’re just too hard to use.”

Some of our customers actually found our mobile products so unusable that they resorted to uninstalling them. Our decision to unbundle our web product into smaller bite sized mobile apps had created a fragmented experience for our users. The lack of time we had to improve interactions and enhance usability had caught up to us.

We were at a tipping point.

December 2015

A brief titled, “Reimagining Percolate Mobile” began circulating around the Product Management, Design, and Engineering teams. Within the brief we asked ourselves to consider the following questions:

  1. How do we create a single application that allows marketers to keep track of what’s happening on their projects, collaborate on campaigns, and approve content when needed?
  2. How will our web product’s roles and permissions impact mobile’s UX?
  3. How can we make better use of notifications?
  4. How do we take Material Design into account and how does it affect the UX of our Android app(s)?

Our Product Team had a rare opportunity. We were going to completely rethink and rebuild our mobile products from the ground up. We had a clean slate to work from.

January 2016

In the first weeks of the year we embarked on a journey to breathe new life into our mobile product offering.

We modeled our project after the Google Venture’s Design Sprint, a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers.

The product that came out of these two weeks of blue-sky thinking and intense design is some of the most exciting work I’ve been part of in my career.

Following articles in this series will unpack the work we did during our two week sprint, analyze the decisions we made, and outline the vision we’ve been delivering on for the past 6 months.

Coming soon: Part 2 — Asking Why, Who, and How

I’m a Mobile Product Designer at Percolate who loves finding the right narrative. In my free time I write music and scour NYC for the best Eggs Benedict.

You can check out my in-progress work on Dribbble, or hear from more of our designers via Percolate Design 🚀

Thanks to Todd Torabi, Dom Goodrum, Carlos Roqué, Chris Carbo, Mary Melton, and Elliott Romano for their feedback while writing this 🙌🏼💚